What is intelligent automation (IA) and how can it be implemented in your organization?
In this post, we’ll explore different types of automation, challenges faced during adoption, and how to effectively deploy automation technologies in your business.
Types of Automation
Automation is a general term that refers to the use of machines, such as software or robotics, to perform tasks normally completed by humans.
In the digital workplace, a number of other terms are used to refer to software-powered automation tools, including:
- Software automation. Software automation refers, unsurprisingly, to the use of certain software platforms to automate other software tools.
- Workflow automation. Workflow automation refers to the use of software platforms to automate business workflows and processes.
- Robotic process automation (RPA). RPA platforms use “software robots” to automate tasks, both simple and complex.
- Business process automation (BPA). BPA is a general term that refers to the use of any automation tools to automate complex business processes.
While these terms typically refer to software-driven automation, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) can significantly enhance the capabilities of automation platforms.
Intelligent Automation (IA) and Cognitive Automation
Intelligent automation (IA), or cognitive automation, refers to the use of AI to enhance automation platforms’ capabilities.
While rules-based automation allows organizations to streamline workflows and business processes, IA can automate more complex activities, such as decision-making and in-depth data analysis.
There are three core components of IA, according to IBM:
- AI, which is used to analyze data and create predictions based on that data
- Business process management (BPM), or business workflow automation
- RPA, which uses the above two capabilities to automate increasingly complex tasks
Together, these capabilities allow IA solutions to dramatically enhance business performance across a number of areas, including:
- Workforce performance
- The customer experience
- Strategic decision-making
The applications and use cases of IA are virtually limitless, as are the upsides. On the other hand, implementing IA is a costly endeavor and, like any business transformation, it is not always successful.
How to Implement IA Successfully
Implementing IA can deliver major bottom-line business benefits, but there are hurdles to overcome.
A few of those include:
- Organizational inertia
- A lack of skills
- Fear and employee resistance
- IT infrastructure
- A lack of commitment from executives
Overcoming these challenges is possible, but it requires careful planning and execution.
Here are a few strategies that can help change advocates drive successful IA implementation projects forward:
Build a case for the business value of IA
Business leaders must remain committed to a change project in order to ensure its success. Change management sponsorship, in other words, can make or break any digital adoption program.
When making a case for the business value of change:
- Understand the “after” state, or what the organization will look like after the adoption program is complete
- Create a vision and a story for change that can engage customers and help drive change forward
- Roadmap the transformation journey and assure sponsors of your own commitment
- Address potential challenges and roadblocks
- Demonstrate the potential ROI of the IA project
To be truly effective, IA plans should be comprehensively adopted across the organization, which makes executive sponsorship that much more crucial.
Take a structured approach to change management
Organizational change management is the discipline dedicated to planning, implementing, and refining organizational change projects.
An enterprise change management function will significantly enhance the company’s ability to drive forward change projects, such as IA implementations.
Change managers address common obstacles to business change programs, such as employee resistance and the need for employee training.
Reimagine journey experiences
IA will have a significant impact across journey experiences both inside and outside the organization. Also, and just as importantly, IA is often intended to enhance those experiences.
It is therefore important to focus on experiences including:
- The customer experience
- The employee experience
- Partner experiences
- Supplier experiences
When developing new experience strategies, experience managers should address areas such as:
- The desired outcomes, such as productivity improvement
- The barriers to achieving those goals, such as employee resistance
- Strategies for overcoming those barriers, such as a communication plan that personalizes the benefits of IA adoption
- A rollout roadmap that incrementally and iteratively improves these experiences, rather than radically altering them all at once
Finally, an effective automation rollout will optimize each touchpoint along the journey, using a range of automation tools.
Implement a complete spectrum of automation solutions
IA represents a high-level approach to automation that can address complex business issues including – but not limited to – predictive analytics, decision-making, analysis, and many other cognitive processes.
To truly take advantage of IA’s potential, however, it is important to adopt a complete range of automation tools, such as:
- Process mining
The adoption of new technologies requires the careful orchestration not only of the human side of change, as mentioned above, but of the technology side of change. As enterprise digital ecosystems become more complex, it is more important than ever to pay close attention to the interplay of various IT systems.For that reason, IT and HR should form a new partnership aimed at driving digital transformation and IA adoption forward.